LAUTENS: West Van councillors Cassidy and Booth in two-woman mayoral race

This column has been amended since first posting.

 

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Christine Cassidy, outwardly a Dresden china doll but with the guts of a burglar, is running for mayor of West Vancouver – at this moment in a two-woman race with fellow councillor Mary-Ann Booth.

Under a delicate porcelain skin that has to be seriously shaded from the sun, Cassidy is one placidly tough and independent-minded woman, WV council’s most frequent outlier.

When incumbent retired oil executive Michael Smith has deplored the lack of business experience on council, he apparently overlooks Cassidy. She’s had decades of experience with major financial services firms, three years ago selling her own but still maintaining one client – herself. She appears to be getting sound market advice.

At council Cassidy is generally thrifty with words, then slips in the stiletto-sharp question. But she’s no (in Mayor Smith’s vocabulary) naysayer just for the sake of saying nay, quite capable of voting with the majority after making searching points.

Example: When council, to general surprise, voted unanimously to prohibit marijuana sales after the Oct. 17 legalization – with an asterisk; planning director Jim Bailey called it “prohibition light” and applications will be considered case-by-case – Cassidy characteristically contributed a late-in-the-debate question no one had thought of: Not even sold in liquor stores? (No, but Cassidy is skeptical that WV’s prohibition will hold.)

Cassidy is of the Irish stock forever ingrained with the great famine and mass exodus of 1845. Her father taught school in Burnaby. Her mother, doubtless busy with seven children, worked for a time at Woodward’s. The opposite of an ambitious career politician, Christine was slowly drawn into WV politics, first by an unpopular issue in her neighbourhood and then into the Ambleside and Dundarave Ratepayers’ Association, a sharp-toothed watchdog then led by the late Keith Pople.

Her full platform will have to wait for more space and better minds than mine, but: Condos too tall for Superman to leap in a single bound won’t be in it – certainly none close to the waterfront. Protection of WV character. A bistro replacing the sad hotdog shack at Ambleside Beach. A new life for the Klee Wyck arts centre destroyed by the disgraceful negligence of Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, Smith, and perhaps earlier mayors.

• • •

Agent 6Clus5t reiterates his prophecy: Smith definitely won’t run, or even walk, as he has in two painless mayoral acclamations. Some “naysayers” see Booth as his reliable double. And I’d place a small bet that, with Cassidy’s mayoral bid freeing up a council seat, Shannon Walker – whose father Chuck’s Bellevue Avenue development is a fine example of attractive architecture that’s stood the test of years, unlike a pretty banal structure being erected nearby – will run again. Shannon, who retired from council in 2011 for child-rearing, was a very favourite political ally of Mayor Smith’s.

• • •

I recently chased Agent P5k92’s tip that WV institution West Van Florist will close. Impersonating a customer buying petunias, I asked. A saleslady demurred; “We’ve been here 87 years.” In WV terms: Forever. Clincher: “And we got a new roof last year.”

Now this, and protesters be forewarned: This grandly located large property in fact has been sold. Its future? And a further prospect for redevelopment: Y. Franks Appliances on 15th Street.

Latest: Murmurs about West Vancouver Marina’s lax management and rotten facilities have buzzed for years. Its more-than-abrupt safety-based closure – dozens of boats scrambling for new space by Sept. 30 – raises the question: What now? Town hall, as the news reported, leases the gorgeous site from the Crown and subleases it to the marina owners. A new tenant, or even renewal and operation by the municipality? The latter, if the town’s mishandling of Gleneagles Golf Course’s potential is a guide, offers little optimism.

• • •

Wha’ ’appened? The West Vancouver Electors’ Movement, an idea born in sturdy optimism for a municipal political party that would compete in the Oct. 20 elections, abruptly died stillborn. Why?

Days before WVEM’s candidate endorsement meeting scheduled for July 5, co-founder David Marley explained, “Jean Lewis and I came to the reluctant conclusion that, though each of the four candidates concerned possesses ability, community-mindedness and some sensible ideas, they were unlikely to coalesce into a coherent team capable of securing a joint mandate for specific action.”

I was obliged by the journalists’ Oath of Perpetual Suspicion to ask: “You are above such backroom deals, but did anyone approach you urging you to abandon your dream in order to avoid splitting the electorate to the advantage of a common foe?”

Marley’s answer: No. Sigh. Would have made a juicier story.

• • •

I lack space to puff every good show hereabouts, but top marks for the song, dance, high-kilowatt energy of two current Vancouver productions: Daryl Cloran’s ingenious Beatles-infested As You Like It – and everyone does, open-nighters leaped to their feet – at Bard on the Beach, and Mamma Mia!, director and choreographer Valerie Easton’s joyous celebration of the ABBA phenomenon running till Aug. 12 at the Stanley (a delight is Cathy Wilmot’s cheeky send-up of “Take a Chance on Me”). Some shout that it’s New York quality. Agreed. Give my regrets to Broadway.

rtlautens@gmail.com

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Editor's note: This column has been updated to correct an earlier version that incorrectly stated that Coun. Christine Cassidy voted in favour of West Vancouver council spending $700,000 to reconfigure Wardance Bridge at the regular meeting of council on Dec. 4, 2017. In fact, Cassidy was the lone dissenter in the 6-1 vote.

 

 

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